This article is slightly liberally biased.
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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While his supporters were lined up outside of the Amway Center Tuesday to greet Donald Trump at his campaign kickoff rally that evening, elsewhere in Orlando, Fla., the editorial board of the Orlando Sentinel newspaper were busy preparing a very different sort of greeting.
Hours before Trump touched down aboard Air Force One, the newspaper published an extraordinary early endorsement–or more accurately, non-endorsement.
Titled “Our endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump,” the newspaper made clear that there is no chance it could support a second term for Trump.
“Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent,” the editorialists wrote. “Because there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump.
“After 2½ years we’ve seen enough,” they said.
The Sentinel‘s choice is not partisan. Indeed, the paper has a long history of backing Republicans for president, endorsing Mitt Romney’s challenge as recently as 2012.
It has to do with Trump’s character and conduct in office.
“Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies.
“So many lies — from white lies to whoppers — told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity,” the editorial explained.
The editorial board wrote that it is equally concerned with the ability of so many Americans simply to accept and swallow all of Trump’s falsehoods.
There was a time when even a single lie — a phony college degree, a bogus work history — would doom a politician’s career.
“Not so for Trump, who claimed in 2017 that he lost the popular vote because millions of people voted illegally (they didn’t). In 2018 he said North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat (it is). And in 2019 he said windmills cause cancer (they don’t),” the editorial said. “Just last week he claimed the media fabricated unfavorable results from his campaign’s internal polling (it didn’t).”
This editorial doesn’t mean the paper automatically endorses whichever Democrat will oppose Trump, the editorial explained. It could choose to sit out this election, as it did in 1980 when it refused to back either President Jimmy Carter or Republican Ronald Reagan.
“It wasn’t your typical rally,” Sentinel opinions editor Mike Lafferty told the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism center. “Somehow the idea emerged that maybe we could just go ahead and put down our markers as to where we’re going to head next year. We already had come to the conclusion based on the first couple of years of the administration that we weren’t going to be able to endorse him, so we thought we might as well go ahead and say that while there was some attention focused on Orlando.”
As of late Tuesday afternoon, Lafferty said reader reaction to the Sentinel’s stance was running about “50-50.”
Trump won Florida in his Electoral College win in 2016, but recent polling puts him behind Democrat Joe Biden in the Sunshine State.